As the CEO of COREangels, I am delighted to share my exhilarating experience at the first-ever Web Summit held outside of Europe, in Rio de Janeiro.
Being a proud Carioca, a native of Rio de Janeiro, I was optimistic about the success of this event in our vibrant city. Having attended Web Summit in Lisbon on multiple occasions, I witnessed its growth but also noticed a shift towards a more corporate and commercial atmosphere, which dampened the innovative spirit. Now, with the conclusion of Web Summit RIO 2023, I can confidently say that Rio has truly embraced the potential of hosting such an exceptional event.
A Thriving Ecosystem
After these 3 days of 20K people (1k startups, 500 investors) from 90 different countries at Rio Centro, Rio could see the potential of hosting a Web Summit. As Brazilians, we must be proud not only of our well-known unicorns but also of all the startups presenting. We must be proud of how much the ecosystem has evolved and is more mature. National VCs and angels are growing as well as the interest from international investors.
I must confess that last November, at the Web Summit Lisbon 2022 when I saw the Rio de Janeiro booth, referring to Web Summit Rio 2023, I didn’t like it. The photos of the Carnival, beaches, and all the fun we can have in Rio. I thought to myself “They don’t get it. Although it is amazing to be in Rio for the food and the “being happy after all” Brazilian way - this is not what we should be talking about”.
Now I am convinced they got it.
Reflecting on the Web Summit Experience
As an investor ticket holder, I must admit that the investors' lounge left much to be desired. It served merely as a space to grab a cup of coffee or snacks, and restrictions on accompanying founders hindered effective networking. I couldn’t take 2 founders with me, only one at a time. It doesn’t matter if they were from the same startup, the rules were the rules. The result was an empty lounge with connections being made elsewhere.
I recommend securing a general attendee ticket for a more fruitful experience. Personally, I've already purchased mine for next year's summit, taking place from April 15th to 18th.
Diverse Perspectives and Inclusion
One of the most remarkable aspects of Web Summit RIO was the impressive representation of women in tech. Women in tech tickets sold out quickly, surpassing expectations and leading to a vibrant and inclusive environment. The increased presence of women-founded startups (22%) and female speakers, including investors, exemplified the progress we are making toward gender equality in the tech industry.
Looking Ahead to Web Summit RIO 2024
Without a doubt, Web Summit RIO 2024 is poised to be even more significant than the initial 20,000 attendees of this year's event. The organizers will have the chance to address certain areas for improvement, such as transportation and food services, as well as consider venues closer for the Night Summit. Taking 1 hour from Barra to Lapa, after spending 1 hour to get out of the venue is really for a few. Additionally, it is crucial for both individuals and companies to secure their tickets well in advance, as many regretfully missed out this year.
Striking the Right Balance
Throughout my numerous Web Summit experiences, I have finally discovered a sweet spot between planning and embracing serendipity (70%-30%). Balancing talks and networking opportunities (30%-70%), I realized that listening and learning from others holds great value, contributing to personal growth and building lasting connections. A 80%-20% ratio of listening to others versus talking about what we do here at COREangels seems to work well.
Let me assure you that we have an abundance of exceptional entrepreneurs within our midst. I had the privilege of reconnecting with colleagues from my previous corporate life who made the brave decision to tackle real-world problems as entrepreneurs. Leaving a secure corporate position to embark on this journey is no easy feat, but these visionaries are adapting, growing, and finding their place within the local and international markets.
A Global Perspective
Besides my colleagues, I could talk to entrepreneurs from a wide variety of industries and places. I was surprised by the number of startups from other countries: Chile, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, US, just to name a few.
While Brazil has gained recognition as a leading provider of payment and fintech solutions, it was invigorating to witness the emergence of startups focusing on education, healthcare, and enterprise solutions. Nevertheless, I believe we can further amplify our impact by fostering clean energy and climate solutions in the future.
Insights from the Talks
Artificial Intelligence (AI) undoubtedly took center stage at Web Summit RIO, transcending discussions on productivity tools and venturing into the realms of impact, regulation, boundaries, and ethics. In the Venture track, where I spent most of my time, the prevailing economic scenario emphasized the significance of cash flow. Many venture capitalists highlighted the value they place on founders' management skills, resilience, and a genuine drive for achieving breakeven. In this current climate, where valuations fluctuate, some startups are opting for bridge rounds or delaying subsequent funding rounds to secure more favorable valuations, allowing for sustainable growth.
Also, they highlighted the need for more women investing as a key factor to reduce the gender gap. They mentioned the importance of founders contacting investors and updating them about the startup, way before fundraising. This relationship building is important to both founders and investors to know each other before a deal is even discussed.
COREangels Community at the Web Summit Rio
During Web Summit RIO, I had the pleasure of attending alongside the leaders and angels from COREangels Edutech (Francisco Dowsley) and COREangels Atlantic (Maurizio Calcopietro and Lucas Oliveira), two of our angel funds.
COREangels Edutech focuses on investing in startups that transform education, while COREangels Atlantic supports Brazilian startups expanding into Europe. It was a joyous occasion to bond with these incredible individuals during the summit and our subsequent happy hour. Stay tuned for exciting updates on the leaders of our upcoming angel fund in Brazil. I will share the news when it’s time.
Unleashing the Power of Collaboration
To all the leaders at COREangels, I want to emphasize that collaboration is paramount in driving innovation. Venture capitalists are exploring opportunities globally, seeking co-investment partnerships and local partners who can provide promising deals within their respective markets. This holds especially true in the early stages of startups, where grounded solutions are being built, and founders are maturing in their entrepreneurial journeys. Let us continue funding and supporting these exceptional entrepreneurs, knowing that we are not alone in this endeavor.
In conclusion, Web Summit RIO was a pivotal moment for startups and innovation, showcasing the remarkable potential of Rio de Janeiro as a global hub for entrepreneurship. Let us embrace this momentum and collectively shape a future brimming with transformative ideas and collaborations. Together, we can forge a path towards a brighter, more innovative tomorrow.
About the Author:
Cintia Mano, angel investor, entrepreneur, Brazilian, Carioca and CEO at COREangels.
COREangels is an international community of angel funds. Our funds are run by professional leaders who help angels to invest in a common portfolio of startups and promote the real support and contribution of angels to the startups.
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